Maserati is reportedly preparing to add a hero V8 model to its brand-new Levante line-up, although Australian buyers will initially make do with a diesel-only range when the SUV launches here later this year.
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According to American website Autoblog, the car maker has already begun testing a petrol V8-powered prototype that could slot in at the very top end of the Levante range.

"Yes, it fits, and we have a prototype already," Davide Danesin, head of Maserati vehicle programs, told the website.

The engine in question is believed to be the same unit currently doing service in the Quattroporte sedan, a Ferrari-fettled 3.8-litre V8 producing 390kW of power and 700Nm of torque (710Nm on overboost).

The V8-powered Levante is reported to be a purely experimental project at this stage, however, with the brand’s management yet to sign off on a production future.


Diesel focus for Australia

In the meantime, when the Levante hits Australian dealerships, customers will have to settle for a diesel-only range.

Internationally, Maserati’s first foray into the luxury SUV market will be offered with petrol and diesel options. Those will include a 3.0-litre twin-turbo V6 available in 261kW and 321kW forms, as well as a 3.0-litre turbo-diesel V6 pushing out 205kW.

Maserati Australia’s Edward Rowe confirmed with CarAdvice this week that while buyers will only be able to get their hands on the diesel, plans are in place to offer the petrol engines down the track - though no date has been set.

Rowe said that 88 per cent of sales in the luxury SUV market going to diesel models, so the brand has chosen to focus its attention on that segment for its initial launch period.


Should a V8 model be introduced, it could enter the market as a rival to the 405kW Range Rover Sport SVR, along with Porsche’s 387kW Cayenne Turbo and 425kW Cayenne Turbo S twins.

The Levante is built on the same platform that underpins the Ghibli and Quattroporte sedans, with both petrol and diesel drivetrains mounted to an eight-speed automatic transmission and will also feature a torque-vectoring all-wheel drive system.

Local pricing is yet to be officially announced, but it’s likely the SUV will attract a price tag of around $150,000.

According to Maserati’s Australian distributor, European Automotive Imports, the Levante will hit local dealerships later this year.